I absolutely refuse to buy a lockbox, unless it offers some guarented result. Something tangible, to boost my character, and at a minimum worth the value of what I put into it. Additionally, I absolutely refuse to buy it if - and this is important - if it somehow is part 1 of many purchases to get to a specific point. It's going to take a few words to hash it out, but, really, the biggest shame that the MMO industry has is the mere concept of keys and lockboxes. Every, single, free-to-play game out there has it in some variety. WildStar is going to get some, Defiance has it in spades, All Points Bulletin has them, Guild Wars 2 has them, SWTOR has them, and so on and so on. The part that makes them a shame, nay, a cancer, is that they're designed not for the player but the whale. Someone who has a spare chunk of cash and is willing to grind them away, forever, and ever, and ever until they get whatever selected item that they want.

Lockboxes contain rare items, skins, vehicles, mounts, space money, tickets, hopes, dreams, prestige, happiness, etc. at very low drop rates. Players, with money, run tests on these lockboxes to see what the drop rates are, collecting the experience of everyone together to hash out what is and isn't inside each of them. This is a fallacy, because the actual droprates can't be divined out of random statistical data where in a pool of say 50 players, perhaps 5 got the space money they always dreamed of having, while in another pool of 50, it never showed up.

If it's not a specific item, then it's like ArcheAge, where the boxes contain materials, rare materials, where purchasing them makes it faster. So you end up buying more and more and more and more and more until you're either getting Google ads for bankruptcy, or complete whater project until the next patch. These are a bit more rare, mostly in sandbox oriented games, and are more caustic than other lockboxes to the enemy.

Then there are games like Marvel Heroes, who offer random heroes in a box, for a price that's cheaper than a regular hero, for currency you can earn in the game. Which is um, really cool honestly. As far as I know, Marvel Heroes is one of the few free-to-play games without lockboxes, opting instead to offer a large assortment of Hero Packs.

No matter how you look at it though, gambling with real life money sucks. It sucks hard. There is no way to get around how much it sucks. Some lockboxes automatically give items after enough tries, like Marvel Avengers Alliance, but even then, you're buying lockboxes and that is just lame. WildStar is adding them, which is lame, and ArcheAge didn't even really make you gamble, it just made it where rare items you needed were for sale, which was lame.

It's going to have to stop one day. We all realize that games rely on whales, this has been a part of mainstream culture since South Park made it a thing. Yet, at the same time, lockboxes still keep coming and coming. Rare items are promised, and yet players buy and buy them, correlating data in hopes of coming up with a rough idea of how many keys, boxes, crates, or whatever they'll need to buy for it work out.

I don't have much more to say than I hate it and I hope you hate it too. I argue that, no matter what, the rarest item should just be sold for a price. If you spend that much on lockboxes, plus whatever more considering they often come with tons of other goodies, then you get a guaranteed chance at it, but otherwise, you can gamble. That removes the whale component and makes items more accessible, but removes the allure to it. Otherwise, games should find some other revenue stream than constantly offering me an item I'll always refuse, but feel bad knowing others are maxxing their credit cards in order to cash out on whatever reward may sit within.

Oh the joy of the Internet.

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Last Updated: Mar 20, 2016

About The Author

Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.